The 1928 historic building in Hot Springs that is home to Ouachita Children’s Center (OCC) is a continuation of a tradition that began in 1910 as the Interstate Orphan’s Home: the tradition of caring for youth. Convinced by Catherine “Mother” Birnbaum of the need for an orphan’s home, a bequest from Hot Springs business owner, Otto Neubert, provided the land and the funds for the home at 339 Charteroak Street. That building burned down in 1926 and was replaced in 1928 with the current building thanks to efforts by the community and the Hot Springs Kiwanis Club.

Eventually, the need for orphanages faded as the state shifted its efforts to place children in foster homes and juvenile training schools. So in the mid-1970s began a movement to move away from youth incarceration and toward community based resources, prevention, and early intervention to reduce reliance on lock-up facilities. In response, a group of community volunteers, including the Lion’s Club, recognized the need for an emergency shelter for youth in crisis. With the help of juvenile justice officials, OCC was founded in 1977.

Today, not only does OCC offer an emergency shelter and respite care, but we also offer outreach programs, case management, and support services in both Garland and Clark counties. Throughout our history – thanks to a caring community and dedicated staff – thousands of youth and families have received the resources they need to secure a more hopeful future. ​

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